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Is It Time to Throw In the Towel?

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Welcome to Episode #4 of my weekly video blog Work You Love!

Today, I’m addressing an important small business question from Randy:

“I used to work for someone else and I didn’t like it at all.  I launched a graphic design business a year ago, and while I love the work, I’m just not making a go of it.  I can’t seem to get enough clients, or the ones I do get don’t seem willing to pay me what the work is worth.  Should I keep going at this, or let it go?  How do you know when it’s time to throw in the towel?”

Here’s my take on that:

 

I hope this video post helps you assess if walking away is the right move, and decide what you really want to create, achieve and focus on in the next chapter.

And today’s top message: If you’re thinking of throwing in the towel, it’s possible this is not the right fit for you.  Are you willing to do everything it takes?

Thank you for watching Work You Love, and wishing you many happy breakthroughs!

(If you have a burning career question you’d like me to answer, SUBMIT IT HERE! I’ll do my best to address it in some form in the weeks to come.)

 

How to Avoid the 7 Worst Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my previous role as VP of Marketing in the corporate arena, and in the past 10 years of advising entrepreneurs and small businesses in their marketing efforts (and in my own business), I’ve seen great marketing strategies and tactics implemented, as well as terrible ones. In tough economic times like these, as in all times, small businesses must be very prudent in their investments and marketing, and understand exactly what to expect in terms of their return on investment.

Below are the top seven marketing blunders I see each and every day that are catastrophic to small business  success:

1)  Your business model is flawed

I’ve worked with scores of coaches, consultants and advisers over the years who’ve made the mistake of jumping into a new business that depends solely on one model that will never work for them – a model that can’t provide sustainable, consistent income or support what these business owners truly want to do in their work.

For example, many types of coaches are dependent on the hourly-payment model (getting clients who pay by the hour for sessions), yet are not able to generate enough clients each month to pay their bills. Look at your model and do the math – if you’re stuck with a model that’s not working, don’t keep your head stuck in the sand. Open your eyes to what your situation is telling you. You need new ways to generate income – different services, formats, approaches, products and programs that offer your expertise in new ways that will provide ongoing, consistent revenue. If you keep doing what isn’t working, you’ll fail miserably.

2) Your focus is misplaced

In my workshops and seminars, I commonly hear entrepreneurs obsessed with concerns about blogging, twitter, Facebook and other social media endeavors, when they don’t have a way to earn money in their business.  Don’t focus your time on social media or building an audience before you’ve figured out what you’re doing in your business — what you want to provide, offer, or sell.  Get clear on your offers first and creating viable products and services. Then you can worry about tweeting and blogging.

3)  Your audience is a mismatch

Another serious marketing problem is that the audience you’ve attracted – through your writing, speaking, or services — is not the audience or community you need or want. I’ve seen examples of new coaches, for instance, who aren’t sustaining themselves through one-on-one coaching, so they decide to offer high-end mastermind group coaching programs ($50,000 for an 6-month mastermind, for example) because they see others do it. They expect to send out a newsletter to their audience, and instantly generate 10 customers at this level. But it doesn’t work this way (despite what scores of “millionaire” success coaches promise if you buy their services.)  For your high-end programs to work, you must have an audience that wants it and can afford it.  You also have to have created a fabulous program that is worth that price tag (in its outcomes and value the customer receives).

As one who believes that everything is “energy,” I’ve seen that you must also be able to resonate energetically with a sense of worthiness and value  in order to earn the level of money you want (check out Gay Hendricks great book The Big Leap to learn about the “upper limit problem” so many people experience).  If you have internal fears and doubts about the value of your programs, you won’t be able to attract great fees.

Finally, you need access to a large enough audience that will resonate with your products, pricing, and your particular service benefits.  This doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just throw out an expensive product and expect folks to flock to it just because you’ve created it.

4)  You don’t like what you’ve created

Another serious marketing mistake is that you’ve decided to focus on a service offering or a customer base that you simply don’t like, because you thought you had to. I can’t count the number of small businesses I’ve advised around this issue, and how distraught the owner is in the realization that what she’s created is now the wrong fit for what she wants to do in the world.  If you hate what you’ve built and who you’re serving, you have two choices – continue supporting something that is no longer aligned with your values and preferences, or change directions. Which do you think makes the most sense? (Here’s a tip – if you hate your customers or what you’re doing in the world, it will hate you back).

5)   Your pricing is off

Pricing of your programs and products is not about what you want to earn – it’s about what the market will bear, as well as the perceived value of what you’re offering. You may think your product is life-changing or the best thing since sliced bread, but if it’s simply too expensive or ill-fitted for the audience you’re reaching, you won’t get it off the ground.

6)  Your services don’t stand out

In every business or consulting arena, you’re in a global economy, competing against the best of the best in the world.  You have to know specifically what makes your products and services better, different, unique than everything that’s out there, and be adept at communicating that. Why should anyone care about what you have to offer, and how can you prove — and validate — that what you have is truly different or better? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you won’t succeed in this highly competitive terrain.

7)   You lack the readiness and willingness to do what’s required

Marketing your business (or your book, product, service, etc.) is a full-time job. If you’re not willing to do it, you have to hire someone who is or get marketing support in another way.  People won’t just flock to you, with cash in their hands. You have to earn their trust and respect over time, through engagement, service, information, and relationship-building.  And you need ambassadors for your work as well. You can’t do this alone and in a vacuum.

How to avoid these seven marketing mistakes?

Start by answering the following questions.  If you don’t have the answers, go back to the drawing board and figure them out before you take one more step in your business:

1)  What is your platform – how do you get the word out about your products/services?

2)  What is your audience – the size, and their geographic, demographic and psychographic  profiles?

3)  How can you grow your audience substantially? What is your reach and how do you spread the word about your work?

4)  Who is in your loyal community (colleagues, peers and supporters) and how can you build it – who are your committed ambassadors who will share the news about your great business and offerings?

5)  What makes your services and products different, better, unique than anything else on the market?

6)  Are your services, pricing, and offerings a match to the people who know about you and care about what you’re doing?

7)   What is your personal brand – what unique experience do you deliver and what is your business known for — emotionally, aesthetically and functionally?

If you care about making your small business work, don’t spend another minute wasting money, time and energy on directions that won’t be fruitful. Find an adviser or support system that can guide you through the landmines of entrepreneurial life, and help you achieve what you want to, and earn the money you need, while making the difference you long to.

(If you need help growing your business, download my free Business Overview Assessment  and check out my new Prosperity Marketing Mindset coaching program to help you understand what steps to take next.)

Why You Stay in a Career You Hate

Speaking and working with people every day who are in careers or jobs they dislike intensely, I’ve asked myself, “How did we get here?  How has it happened that so many thousands of people have become despondent, angry and disgruntled about what they do for a living?” 

Clearly, there are many factors at play here, including the rise of technology – that makes setting boundaries around our professional lives virtually impossible.  Further, in the past 30 years, we’ve become slaves to the almighty dollar, addicted to acquiring things we can’t afford, which keeps us working long and hard just to break even.  Additionally, many people jumped into certain jobs or fields early in their careers, only to discover 10 or 20 years later that they can’t find a way out.

But I believe there are even deeper reasons for this epidemic of people hating what they do each day for their living.  These reasons touch on underlying emotional, spiritual and behavioral conditions, and reveal a deep disconnection to what it means to live joyfully, authentically, and meaningfully.

I know some folks will debunk this post, claiming they have absolutely no choice in the matter, and that they’re stuck doing this work.  But I don’t see life that way.  I believe we always have new choices, new paths, new solutions available to us, if we can simply commit to creating a better life.

Based on the feedback I’ve received from hundreds of professionals here and abroad, I’ve observed the following eight core reasons why people hate their careers.  As I share these, know this – I’m not sitting in judgment of any of these; in fact, I’ve lived through each and every one of these conditions.

1)   You don’t know yourself

The vast majority of people I see in the workplace just don’t know themselves at all.  When asked, “What’s your top priority in life and in your career?  What would you give up anything for?” or “When you’re 90 looking back, what do you want to have done, been, and left behind? “  I get blank stares and mouths hanging open.  People don’t know themselves well or deeply anymore.  Why?  Perhaps because we don’t make time in our lives to get to know ourselves – we’re just too over-the-top busy.  Or perhaps the process of knowing oneself deeply is intimidating and scary.  Whatever the reason – if you don’t know who you are, at your core, and what you stand for and care about, how can you lead a life that aligns with your needs, values, and interests? (My free Career Path Self-Assessment will help you know yourself better, if you want to.)

2) You know yourself, but you make yourself wrong

In this situation, you know yourself and what you want, but you simply make yourself wrong.  You tell yourself, “Yeah, I want to change, but I’m wrong to feel that way.”  Or “I’m lucky to have a job, so I shouldn’t rock the boat” or “I have so much – I should just feel blessed and not complain.”  So many people (women in particular) doubt the validity of their feelings or repress their deepest longings because they think they’re wrong to have them.  Until you can make yourself “right,” you can’t find peace or joy.

3)  You’ve lost the courage to act

For many who know what they want, they’ve lost the courage to take hard action.  We’ve been seduced by some erroneous concept that life should be easy.  Where did we get that idea?  Making life change isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it, especially if you hate where you are today. It takes courage, grit, and commitment to bring about lasting change, and you can do it, but only if you decide to connect to your own internal power, courage and fortitude.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON FORBES.COM 


Why do you stay in a career that makes you miserable?  Can you make a different choice?

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5 Key Steps to Your New Career in 2012

As a career coach, I spend a great deal of time reviewing the details of people’s lives and careers and making sense of the seeming randomness.  With clients who want a new career, I always begin by having them complete my Career Path Self-Assessment, an in-depth survey which leads them to deeply examine their early selves, their previous jobs, and a variety of other important information.  From this array of data, I uncover core life themes, roadblocks, unique skills and talents, and lost passions.  I put this all together to identify more fulfilling and exciting professional directions.

While it’s very helpful to have a great career coach, the reality is that you can do this on your own.  I’ve found after years of coaching that there are five core steps everyone can take to identify new career paths that will align more closely with who you are, and bring you more success and reward. 

Why should you take these steps? 
Because you have the right to love what you do and do what you love.  People like to claim that loving your work is a pipedream – but those who defend that view are wrong.  Enjoying your career and feeling there’s deep meaning and purpose in it is not just for a select, fortunate few.   It’s for anyone who believes in him/herself and takes the right kind of action.

CLICK HERE here to read my full article on Forbes about the top five most effective steps to take to figure yourself out and get on track to a more fulfilling career.

What did you love to do in your early years, and are you drawing on those skills, gifts and talents today?

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How to Avoid the Top 5 Public Speaking Mistakes

On Wednesday, I posted an article on my Forbes blog

microphone

Image by Daehyun Park via Flickr

called: “Why So Many “Experts” Are Terrible Speakers: Top 5 Public Speaking Mistakes.”

I was as suprised as anyone when this piece went viral.  Over 110,000 folks viewed the article piece as of this morning (it was one of the top three most popular pieces on Forbes the day it was published!), and thousands shared it on their social networks.  Clearly this topic touched a nerve. 

My guess is that thousands of folks have attended live and online conferences and workshops this past year, and have been as astounded as I about the lack of ability of the speaker to connect, enliven, motivate and educate us, or to leave us with anything lasting or meaningful.  It’s a great disappointment when you plunk down your hard-earned money to learn something new from an “expert” and to be inspired, only to leave feeling deflated and let down.

As a frequent speaker at live and online conferences, I’m in the company of hundreds of folks each year who are top authors, experts and consultants.  In many cases, these are great thought leaders who perform public speaking as just one aspect of their professional endeavors.   In attending these programs, I’m continually shocked at how many content experts are, in fact, wholly ineffective speakers .

My colleague, Krista Carnes, Founder of Booking Authors — a consulting firm that helps experts and authors connect with new opportunities and audiences, and a member of the Maestro Market start up team – shared this:

One big mistake I find is the incorrect assumption that speaking at a “big name” event or two is the only way to get attention. There are no “small” events when you’re starting out.  Most people, no matter how much passion they have, are simply not ready to get in front of large audiences. In striving for those large opportunities only, many overlook exciting, creative ways to engage with their communities and tribes – ways that nurture the development of presentation skills and personal presence that are crucial in today’s digitally-driven age.”

Observing amazing speakers who move and motivate us (watch some TED Talks for inspiring examples), and comparing them to ineffective speakers, I’ve observed five core behaviors that keep speakers from achieving their key goals – to motivate, enliven, inform and educate.   Below are the top five mistakes content experts often make as speakers when trying to engage audiences, stimulate crowds, and connect deeply with others. 

I’ve made some of these mistakes myself, and have lived the experience of losing an audience.  None of us are born astounding speakers, and there’s always more to learn, but the first step is to acknowledge your own gaps.

TOP 5 PUBLIC SPEAKING MISTAKES – FAILING TO…

1. Meet the Audience Where They Are

First and foremost, speakers must remember that their deep knowledge about a topic isn’t (usually)shared by the audience.  Listeners aren’t in the same place you are – they haven’t spent years studying this area, researching it, living it.  It’s new to them.  So you must meet your audience where they are, finding a way to hook them in.  Then take them on a stimulating journey of initial discovery through full-out engagement so that your key points can be understood and embraced.   Assuming that they know what you know, or care in the way you care, is a mistake.  You have to generate a significant level of interest from the beginning, and pique that interest continually throughout your presentation.

2. Make a Heartfelt Human Connection

In the past few weeks, I’ve been a part of a number of national events that highlight speakers who are at the top of their fields.  I’ve seen evidence that being a nationally-recognized guru doesn’t mean you have any degree of social or emotional intelligence.  I’m finding that numbers of these experts simply fail to engage us on an emotional, heartfelt level – they don’t connect in a personal way, or give the sense that they truly care a whit about the audience and its ability to productively use the vast information they know and share.  In the end, their lack of a human connection makes their presentations feel overwhelming and unsettling– they push us away with all data, facts and statistics, and no heart and soul. They’re simply not likable.

3.  Show Respect for the Listener

Again, I’ve seen scores of speakers alienate an audience by expressing disdain or criticism for some common behavior or thinking.  For example, if you’re speaking to social media novices about what they need to do to get up to speed in the social media arena, you must understand that many folks are afraid and insecure about taking the plunge, and you need to be gentle with them, not judgmental, critical or flip. 

In the end, if you hate or disrespect your listeners for their lack of savvy in your area of expertise, they’ll hate you back.  And if you leave your audience feeling that they are losers, failures or unworthy of your respect, then you’ll achieve the opposite of your desired effect – you’ll bruise their sense of self-worth and create a huge rift between you and your audience.You’ll lose them forever.

4.  Inspire Follow-Up Thinking/ Action

It’s not enough to present information without inspiring people to follow up with new action or thinking.  Your words and messages simply won’t last in the minds of the audience members if you don’t motivate your listeners to DO something different with what you’ve just shared and taught.  Think about how you can connect and engage with your audience after your talk, and help them on a path of thinking or behaving differently, making use of your information in ways that better their lives.  If you don’t, you’ve missed a key outcome of serving as a speaker/presenter – to inspire positive action.

5.  Leave a Lasting Message of Significance

Finally, with the millions of webcasts, seminars, workshops and talks available today to us –either in person or online — your talk will not stand out or be effective if you don’t leave the audience with a clear message of significance – something lasting, meaningful, and impactful.  If you’re simply sharing dry information, but don’t touch on the vital “essence” of your material (the living, breathing heart of what you care about and why we should care), you’ll fail as a speaker.

In the end, it’s not easy to be a compelling speaker or presenter, and deep knowledge of a topic doesn’t necessarily contribute to your ability to reach people.  But addressing these mistakes will help you communicate in ways that make you the speaker that people ask for most and remember best.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – What is your deepest public speaking challenge and how are you overcoming it?  Thanks for sharing.

 

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